A few weeks after launching an investigation into Crown Resorts Limited and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AusTRAC) regulator has now reportedly announced that it is widening this probe to include rival casino operators SkyCity Entertainment Group Limited and The Star Entertainment Group Limited.
According to a report from the Reuters news service, the revelation from the financial crime watchdog means that companies behind casinos in five of the largest Australian cities are now being probed for potential breaches of federal anti-money laundering and due diligence protocols.
Crown Resorts Limited runs the Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth facilities but was refused a gambling license for its new Crown Sydney development earlier this year amid allegations that it may have been complicit in a slew of money laundering offences tied to its utilization of foreign junket firms. This move followed the completion of an investigation commissioned by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority and prompted authorities in the states of Western Australia and Victoria to initiated analogous probes, which are still ongoing.
For its part and SkyCity Entertainment Group Limited is responsible for a trio of casinos in its native New Zealand as well as the SkyCity Adelaide facility in the Australian state of South Australia. The Auckland-headquartered operator is currently in the midst of a $90 million bond offering and detailed in April that it is to permanently cease contracting with junkets in order to attract high-value foreign gamblers to its four properties.
Finally, The Star Entertainment Group Limited is the company behind The Star Gold Coast, Treasury Brisbane and The Star Sydney enterprises and is currently spending roughly $2.3 billion so as to bring its Queen’s Wharf Brisbane development to a 23-acre plot of land in central Brisbane. The operator moreover last month floated a non-binding proposal that would see it merge with rival casino operator Crown Resorts Limited to create an entity responsible for seven properties spread across four Australian states.
Reuters reported that the trio of casino operators declared that the AusTRAC probe, which furthermore includes National Australia Bank Limited, was additionally looking into their management of ‘customers identified as high risk and politically exposed persons’. The three also divulged that the watchdog has not yet communicated whether it intends to take enforcement action but that they were committed to cooperating fully.
In related news and Inside Asian Gaming reported that Crown Resorts Limited used an official filing earlier today to admit a historical breach of its obligations under the Casino Control Act in Victoria. This source detailed that the admission followed the receipt of new legal advice regarding the operator’s processing via credit and debit cards of more than $124 million in gambling transactions inside its Crown Melbourne facility between 2012 and 2016.
Melbourne-headquartered Crown Resorts Limited reportedly pronounced that the revelation is unrelated to the ongoing AusTRAC probe but comes after its new management discovered that it had had regularly taken card funds from guests checking in at Crown Melbourne’s Crown Towers Hotel before making this same cash available to the patrons for the purposes of casino gaming. Such a practice is purportedly in contravention of the tenets of the Casino Control Act with the operator proclaiming that it ‘is continuing its investigations into these matters’ and has informed the royal commissions looking into its activities in Victoria and Western Australia.